Johnson's Late Run Wins Cheaper Than Dirt Shootout FORT WORTH, TX (October 11) -- Jason Johnson put together a miraculous, late-race run Saturday at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track on his way to winning the first O'Reilly World of ...
Johnson's Late Run Wins Cheaper Than Dirt Shootout
FORT WORTH, TX (October 11) -- Jason Johnson put together a miraculous, late-race run Saturday at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track on his way to winning the first O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series "A" Feature of his career: the Cheaper Than Dirt Shootout.
Johnson, who started inside the seventh row, raced in the middle of the pack while former boss, series points leader Steve Kinser, battled to maintain the lead over Preliminary Feature winner Daryn Pittman. "The Cajun Sensation" realized the #22 Harrison Trucking Eagle felt comfortable in the high groove with nine laps remaining and started making his way to the front. He executed identical fourth-corner passes of Pittman and Kinser during the 34th and 35th laps and took the checkered flag with 3.97 seconds to spare.
"I really have to thank Al Harrison," Johnson said in victory lane. "He gets upset with me some days, but he puts me in really good equipment. I've lived in Texas (Greenville) for three years now; this is home.
"I was racing the race track, not the other drivers. I started in the back and ran it for all it was worth. I didn't hold anything back."
Johnson is the 17th driver to win a main event during the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series' Silver Anniversary Season, and the fifth driver to record his first victory this year. He passed 12 cars, the most of any "A" Feature winner in 2003.
"This late in the season, it was a successful weekend," said Kinser, who employed Johnson as a crewman five years ago. "It would have been great to win, but we extended the lead in the points championship. We had some motor problems and lost a valve with about 10 laps to go. It was just good to finish the race."
Kinser, who opened a 134-point advantage over Danny Lasoski in their battle for the series championship with his second runner-up run of the weekend, won his 27th Dash Race of the season for the privilege of starting the 40-lap main event on the pole. "The King of the Outlaws" appeared to be on his way to a flag-to-flag victory before his engine started losing power. Despite colliding with front-row starter Shane Stewart as the green flag fell, he burst into the lead and opened a 10-car-length advantage while running the high line during the first four laps.
Pittman, racing in the low groove in turns three and four while chasing Kinser through the first and second corners, was 10 car-lengths behind the leader when they entered lapped traffic 10 laps into the race.
Cautions for Jason Meyers late in the 16th lap, Randy Hannagan and Aaron Berryhill six laps later and Fourth Heat Race winner Sammy Swindell's flat right rear tire during lap 26 tightened the field, but Kinser controlled the restarts and was 15 car-lengths ahead of Pittman with 12 laps remaining.
Johnson won a front-straightaway drag race with Joey Saldana for third place early in lap 32, then surged ahead of Pittman and Kinser within the next three laps. He opened a 15-car-length advantage within a lap and was a full straightaway ahead by the 38th lap.
Saldana passed Pittman for third place during the final lap.
"We got Pittman at the end," Saldana said. "It tuned out to be track position. Jason could run high in three and four, but nobody else could. When they went high, it left the bottom open. If the race was longer, I could have gotten Steve."
Pittman's fourth-place finish left him 16 points behind Saldana in their battle for third place in the standings with four events remaining on the 2003 schedule.
"We were good, but nearly blew up with about 10 laps to go," Pittman said. "We finished the race running on six or seven cylinders."
Johnson's $12,000 victory slightly overshadowed Tim Shaffer's outstanding run into sixth place from outside the 12th row. Shaffer, whose crew replaced the engine in the #83 Beef Packers Eagle during the qualifying session, was only the 22nd-fastest qualifier after taking one lap at the end.
Despite damaging his right rear tire while colliding with Swindell late in lap 26, Jac Haudenschild drove the #4 RacetoHawaii.com Maxim past 12 cars to finish ninth. Meyers raced through the field during the final 15 laps to record his 34th top-10 finish of the season.
The O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series will race at Delta Bowl Speedway in Tunica, MS, for the first time Friday and Saturday.